So, you want to be an elearning designer? I'll be honest with you - the industry is quite lucrative; and in our line of work, hourly and project-based rates are quite high. What's more is that the skills market is not as saturated; as there are only quite a few e/m-learning designers in the world. What more in the Philippines?
However, there is a reason why there are only a few of us out there. Creating and designing e-learning modules require different skills that only a few people possess; and these skills can be further categorized under practical tools and abstract tools. In addition, these skills are on entirely different ends of the spectrum - with one end leaning toward cutting-edge innovative technology, and the other end favoring more traditional, academic theories, frameworks, and approaches.
*(We have a previous post that briefly discusses some examples of physical and abstract tools. You can read it here.)
If you're planning to start a career as an e/m-learning designer, these are the 7 critical things that you need to learn before you start.
These are the tools that belong to the "innovative, high-tech, end" of the spectrum:
1. Rapid Authoring Tools
Rapid authoring tools are applications that allow you to convert elements (such as images, videos, text, etc.) into a packaged e-learning module. Examples of such tools are: Adobe Captive and Articulate Storyline. These two applications allow you to turn boring presentation slides into interactive lessons for your learners.
2. Multimedia Tools
Photo-editing, video-editing, sound-editing, freehand drawing, and animation are just a few tasks that require designers to utilize multimedia tools. To name a few, Adobe Photoshop, Corel Draw, Adobe Premiere, Audacity, and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro are applications needed to tweak and/or modify elements for your e-learning modules.
3. Learning Management Systems
Learning management systems (LMS) are the 'containers' (though not necessarily) that make e-learning modules available to target audiences. A grasp of LMSs and an understanding of how they work are an integral part of a designer's skills due to the fact that most institutions use them to keep track of their learners' progress. Moreover, rapid authoring tools also use different languages to successfully integrate with an LMS - and these are SCORM, and Experience/Tin Can API.
These are the tools that belong to the "traditional, academic, end" of the spectrum:
4. Learning Theories and Approaches
These approaches are mostly discussed in Education and Psychology courses in the university. These theories include pedagogy, andragogy, behaviorist, cognitive, constructivist, and social-constructivist approaches - and these are just a few of them. Familiarity with these concepts allow the you to dictate the overall approach on how the audience will process and retain learning.
5. Instructional Design Frameworks
Instructional design frameworks are approaches that make your e/mlearning module more effective in terms of delivery to your target learner. To name a few, the ADDIE, the Dick and Carey, and Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs are frameworks you need to be familiar with. Knowledge of these frameworks allows the you to analyze, design, implement, and evaluate your module.
6. Graphic Design
Another important aspect of creating an e-learning module is its design. As a designer, it is paramount that your e-learning module is aesthetically pleasing and is easy to navigate. A streamlined design equates to a better learning experience; thus, better retention for the student. You need to be familiar with color theory, page layouts, interface design, and UXUI (user experience-user interface) design; just to name a few.
7. Project Management
Project management is another critical skill for an e/m-learning designer. For a certain project, you will be required to communicate with different people like SMEs, graphic artists, and other designers. You will also be obligated to distribute resources such as money and time. More importantly, you will also be accountable for milestones and deadlines during the development of the module. In order to juggle all of these, you must have an understanding of project management concepts to ensure that the project gets delivered on time and within the specified requirements and budgets.
There it is! i know it's quite a tall order - but hey, most of the resources that you need can now be found online. It's just up to you on how to apply them and master them.
Do you agree with the list above? If you have any other skills/tools that you think e/m-learning designers need, then let us and the community know through the comments section below.